Three days after Sports Illustrated reported that Houston Astros team official Brandon Taubman shouted verbal abuse at a group of women sports reporters following the team’s series-clinching win over the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, the Astros announced Thursday that they had “terminated” Taubman’s employment with the club.
According to the report by Sports Illustrated journalist Stephanie Apstein, during the Astros clubhouse celebration following a walk-off, 6-4 victory that sent the Astros to the World Series, Taubman shouted at a group of three female reporters, including Apstein. One of the reporters was wearing a “purple domestic-violence awareness bracelet,” she reported.
“Thank God we got Osuna!” Taubman shouted at the women, according to Apstein. “I’m so f****ing glad we got Osuna!” According to Apstein’s reporting, Taubman repeated the shouted comments approximately six times.
Taubman was referring to Astros closer Roberto Osuna, who was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays by the Astros midway through the 2018 season, as The Washington Post reported, despite that fact that Osuna was then serving a 75-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against domestic violence.
Osuna was accused of assaulting the mother of his 3-year-old child, but he struck a deal with prosecutors in Toronto, Canada, and never faced charges in the alleged assault.
Tell me Brandon Taubman doesn’t look like someone who would cut a deal with Hans and ruin the McLain family Christmas. pic.twitter.com/XYdutxg0RF
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) October 22, 2019
At first, the Astros accused Apstein and Sports Illustrated of “an attempt to fabricate” the account of Taubman’s outburst, according to The Washington Post. But other media outlets and reporters who were present during the team executive’s outburst quickly confirmed that Apstein’s report was accurate.
Taubman, who was an assistant general manager with the team, then issued a statement admitting that he had “used inappropriate language.” He also apologized “if anyone was offended by my actions.” In the statement, Taubman described himself as “progressive,” and “a loving and committed husband and father.”
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow also gave an interview to a local radio station, as reported by Deadspin, in which he appeared to minimize Taubman’s outburst.
Luhnow said in the interview that did not know “the intent behind the inappropriate comments” made by the assistant GM toward the women reporters.
After Taubman’s firing was announced on Thursday, Luhnow was asked whether he had apologized to Apstein, but according to reporter Hazel Mae, Luhnow claimed that he had been too busy, as quoted by Deadspin. Apstein was sitting in the room with Luhnow and other reporters at the time, Mae said.
The Astros’ initial statement claimed that the team investigated the incident and found Apstein’s reporting “misleading” and “irresponsible.” But in the Thursday statement, the Astros admitted that the conclusion of that investigation was “wrong.”
“Who were those ‘witnesses’ who lied to smear Apstein and the other reporters present as fabulists? Who crafted that first statement? What consequences will they face?” Deadspin asked.